Budget Process Kicks Off On Wednesday
Virtual hearing Wednesday, 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. Mayor will outline city's financial situation.
Milwaukee’s 2021 budget process, poised to be the most challenging in at least a decade, will get formally underway Wednesday evening.
Barrett, who delivered a 45-minute presentation last year, seems ready to repeat some of his major points from 2019.
Four factors are combining to put city officials in an increasingly difficult place: the rising costs of public safety, a quickly growing need to fund the city’s pension system, state restrictions on raising revenue and declining revenue sharing from the state.
The city faces a $52.7 million structural deficit in its 2021 budget when factoring in department requests and estimated revenues.
There will be one notable change from last year – the meeting will be entirely virtual. Instead of a packed room at the Zeidler Municipal Building, the meeting will take place via the city’s television channel and online streams. Community members will be allowed to ask questions by registering in advance.
The hearing will not include line item details for the $1.6 billion budget. That will come in late September when Barrett delivers an executive budget to the Common Council. Wednesday’s hearing is intended to provide information on the city’s finances and what factors are shaping the budget.
In addition to its preexisting budget challenges, the city faces challenges from the COVID-19 pandemic. Revenue from fees, including parking, is down by millions of dollars in 2020.
The Common Council passed a request for a model of a 10 percent reallocation of the Milwaukee Police Department’s approximately $300 million budget in June with a 30-day deadline, but that model has yet to be submitted to the council.
The council is scheduled to spend October reviewing the executive budget, with amendments and a final budget being adopted in November. Barrett retains the right to veto provisions of the budget, but can be overruled by a two-thirds council vote.
Residents are encouraged to submit responses to a budget survey and use an interactive budget simulation tool to voice their opinions on budget priorities and indicate how they would close the budget gap.
You can view Barrett’s 2019 preliminary budget hearing presentation on Urban Milwaukee. For more on the 2020 budget, see our coverage from last year.
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Read more about 2021 Milwaukee Budget here